Regardless of how well or poorly your memory works, you can increase its effectiveness with practice. The following strategies are helpful in enhancing one’s memory.
Attention and awareness
Some of the difficultly people report with a poor memory is not really a matter of forgetting, but simply failing to learn in the first place. One can make paying attention a more active process by using as many senses as possible. It is important to react actively to an experience. When being introduced, look at the person and pay close attention to remember their name.
The solution to the problem of absentmindedness is both simple and obvious. One has to be sure to think of what one is doing during the moment in which one is doing it. It is obviously easier said than done. One technique that is extremely effective is self-instruction. For example, before going on a trip, as you pull the cord of the coffee maker out of the wall socket, say to yourself, “I have pulled the cord of the coffee maker out so I won’t start worrying when I get a few miles from home.” It really works.
Controlling your physical environment
Some things force themselves upon our attention. For example, it is difficult to ignore advertising. This principle can be used as a memory strategy. If you want to remember to take clothes to the cleaners, lay them out the night before on your breakfast table so you cannot fail to see them the next morning.
Used with self-instruction, this technique is extremely helpful in “away-from-home” situations. For example, when you park your car in a lot or on the street, find a “TAG” (e.g., a store name near the car) then use self-instruction to imprint the “TAG” in your memory.
This technique is a useful organizational device for remembering lists and phone numbers. For example, if you are presented with a telephone number, it is easier and more efficient to work with it if you “chuck” the digits into groups of numbers individually. For example, 476-3109 can be “chunked” as 476 (four seventy-six) 31 (thirty-one) 09 (oh-nine).
Attitudes and memory
Memory performance can be improved through a positive self-image as well. Be good to yourself. People who feel good inside can retrieve information faster and more accurately.